LITTLETON — On a rainy day at Dave Sanders Memorial Field, the sun eventually came out and a rainbow brightened up the Class 5A top-10 showdown.
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“We were looking at rescheduling and then there is the umpire shortage,” Columbine coach Jim Santaniello said about the 5A Jeffco League opener Sept. 14 against Arvada West that started but quickly went into an hour long lightning/rain delay. “We thought we would give it a go, but I really didn’t think it would happen.”
With the rain letting up a little and issues finding a date that would work for both Arvada West and Columbine, the teams and umpires decided to start around 5 p.m.
Columbine — No. 1 in the CHSAANow.com softball rankings — had every answer against No. 7 A-West. The Rebels edged the Wildcats 9-7 just before darkness set in.
A-West (12-6, 1-1 in league) took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning with an RBI double by junior Kelsie Johnson, along with three walks issued by Columbine senior ace Araya Ogden.
“It was pretty tough. My hands were really slippery,” Ogden said of pitching in the tough conditions, especially through the first few innings when it was still raining. “I was trying to get my mojo going. My team came back and helped me.”
Columbine (14-0, 1-0) responded with a 3-run bottom of the first inning and never trailed after taking the lead. Freshmen Nina Vargas and Mason Abraham picked up RBIs that put the Rebels up 3-2 going to the second inning.
Vargas went 2-for-3 with a walk. Abraham nearly hit for the cycle in her first conference game. She went 3-for-3 from the plate with a single, double and triple. Abraham walked her final at-bat needing only a home run to hit for the cycle.
“Yes,” Abraham said when asked if she was thinking about the cycle in her last at-bat. “I wanted it bad.”
The Rebels’ other starting freshman — Livi Keiter — went 2-for-3 with a walk. She also made an amazing play in the field from her shortstop position in the sixth inning with a backhand stop and getting a force out at second base.
“It’s really impressive,” Santaniello said of the performances of Keiter, Abraham and Vargas. “They don’t seem like there is a stage too big for them. Most of all three are outstanding kids. It starts with that.”
Columbine junior Eva Martinez and sophomore Katie Forbes provided the power at the plate in the win. Martinez hit a solo home run in the third inning to extend the Rebels’ lead to 4-2. Forbes went deep in the fifth inning that gave Columbine an 8-3 advantage.
“We talk about momentum a lot. We were able to continually regain the momentum,” Santaniello said about the Rebels scoring in the bottom half of each inning after A-West had scored. “I attribute it to the team’s mental toughness.”
A-West made a late run with a 3-run top of the sixth inning that cut Columbine’s lead to 8-6. Senior Peyton Raley, along with juniors Alexiana Sandoval and Mac Ferguson had RBI hits. Johnson drove in her second run of the game with a long home run over the left field fence in the top of the seven inning.
“I’m glad that we made a good run at it in the end there,” A-West coach Brenna Millikan said. “I’m frustrated because I don’t think it was our best game on either side. I don’t think Columbine saw our best. It’s frustrating to swallow that one.”
Ogden finished off the win throwing back-to-back ground ball outs after Johnson’s solo shot.
“A-West is probably the toughest team we’ve played all season,” Ogden said. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to strike everyone out and they would probably hit. We knew we had to hit and we were ready.”
The Wildcats are the lone undefeated team left in 5A. In fact, Lutheran (4A) and Strasburg (3A) are the only other two team without a loss in the state.
“It is really big for me because we are still undefeated,” Ogden said. “Everyone still wants to knock us off. We need to be on the top of our game and it makes us more driven.”
Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.
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